SRT for Team India T20 World Cup
There was a spirited campaign among Cricket bloggers until recently, to have Sachin Tendulkar included in the T20 World Cup squad. The plight of the Mumbai Indians should have given them some pause. SRT is not right for the world cup squad. He does not have the explosive power of Sehwag or Yuvraj, the steadying influence of Gambhir, or the audacity of Raina or Sharma. He cannot replace Dhoni. So who do you remove from the 6 batsmen I listed to fit in SRT? Not to mention the pressure on the rest of the batsmen that comes from having him in the side. He's made it very clear that he is only playing ODIs now because he wants to retire with atleast one world cup. That is the only prize he does not have at the end of what is by any standards an unprecedented career. He also knows that the current team is the best chance to reach that goal, and is ruthlessly willing to keep Raina or Sharma out of the squad if thats what it takes to get his World Cup trophy. I know that commentators the world over never tire of saying that he's earned the right to decide when he should retire, but I'm sure if they asked Rohit Sharma, he'd have a word or two to say about that.
Mumbai, SRT and Rohit Sharma
This guy is an exceptionally gifted cricketer by any standard, and should be in the Indian ODI team and knocking on the test door. He been a good performer when he's been given the freedom to play his game, which has mostly been in the IPL. Outside of that, he's been unsure of his place in the side or his role in it when he does get a game.
Meanwhile, the powers that be, or atleast the deadly duo - SMG and Ravi Shastri, always tend to talk about him in a tone of disappointment. He's from Mumbai, and normally SMG should be dancing on the rooftops singing his praises. Even Sachin's not said anything to boost Sharma's chances. After all, once Sachin decides to hang up his boots, for the first time in the history of Indian Test Cricket the Indian team will be without a top order bastman from Mumbai. It will be truly the end of an era. Are SMG and SRT quiet about Rohit Sharma because they do not want to be parochial? I have a sneaking suspicion that the real reason is that they ARE being parochial. I feel that if Sharma had a "kar" suffix to his last name, that he'd have broken into the Indian team a long time ago and SMG and SRT would have been singing his praises loud and clear. But he is just a Sharma, and hails from the outer suburbs and does not have the Shivaji park pedigree or the right degree of respect for the Mumbai pantheon, and that is why I fear greatly for his chances to ever make it big in the Indian team. I would love to hear otherwise.
The 4 Batsman Rule
Its gratifying to see that the 4 batsmen rule is still being vindicated in the IPL. Teams with atleast 4 in form batsmen stand the best chance of winning. Teams without the magic number will struggle. The 4 lowest teams in the IPL2 - KKR, BRC, MI and KXI - are all suffering from the same condition.
Stop knocking the IPL already
I saw this article in the Cricinfo blog list today - Bored with IPL? Maybe Modi should call Time!. Its full of the same stuff we've already heard a million times already. The writer claims that Modi has hired Bollywood types to raise the league's profile. He's either pathetically ill-informed or worse, wilfully ignorant that the Bollywood types have invested money in the league. He claims that the crowds have been missing from the stadiums - the fact that a foreign tournament has been able to get any kind of audience at such short notice, is flatly ignored again. A lot is made by its critics of the repeated and prominent mention given by the IPL and its commentators to the corporate sponsors. Apparently their hearts break with sadness to hear a six described as a DLF Maximum. As if a Rose would smell less sweet if it were called a DLF Maximum instead of a Rose. Seriously, these arguments have been heard until we are all sick of them. These detractors need to shut up and enjoy the games, which are being played in the right spirit and with the maximum intensity. The corporate plugs are just there to enable us to enjoy the fantastic Cricket on offer, and I for one have no problem with that. In my opinion, people who claim to be bored with the IPL because of the corporate overkill are just snobs and personally I'm bored of them already. Please shut up and let me enjoy the game.
In Defence of Modi
The other favorite theme adopted by detractors is Modi hatred. That is what it is, pure and simple. Lets face the facts - no one else has been able to do what Modi has done, which is to create a Cricket league that pays international cricketers well to showcase their skills for the enjoyment of cricket lovers, and get corporates to sponsor it all so that the public is not left paying the kind of obscene gate money American leagues charge their fans - in stadia or on TV. Yes, he is overexposed, but so what. He is no worse looking than Malcolm Speed or any other Cricket administrator anywhere. Yes, the IPL is a big money spinner for all, but Modi was born rich. The dude gifted Yuvraj a brand new Porsche 911 Turbo for hitting six sixes, on the spot! From his own pocket. Before the IPL. I doubt he is in the IPL to get rich. I feel that he is as hated as he is, only because he is Indian and not European or Australian. If he were either of the latter two, he'd be celebrated and praised. This is pure and simple anti-Indianism and has nothing to do with the man. In my opinion he has done nothing more egregious than starting that stupid strategy timeout.
In Defence of Shahrukh
Shahrukh has copped a lot of heat since the decision to remove Ganguly as captain of KKR was taken. The decision was plain wrong, in hindsight, but Buchanan is after all a coach who won 2 back to back worldcups and Shahrukh hired him so cannot be blamed for listening to him. Other than that, Shahrukh has done nothing wrong, and yet is the most hated person in calcutta today. Calcuttans are not known for their balanced opinions anyway, but does Shahrukh really deserve the blame for the KKR fiasco in IPL 2? Seriously, I fail to see what he could have done differently to make his team more successful, other then to fire Buchanan the day Ganguly flew down to Bombay to meet him. He has hired the right cricketers, and has hired the staff recommended by his coach with the impressive resume. He has participated enthusiastically in every activity designed to raise the profile of his team, and next to the Ambanis, he's been the most hands on and conscientious team owner.
Again, its fashionable to question his motives, but I doubt he's in it to make money. He said as much before the 2nd season, when he was asked about the profit he made last year - the foreign stars left early and the savings from not having to pay Ponting and Gayle etc was what caused the surplus. When asked what he would do if the team did not make any money, he replied with his usual disarming honesty, "I guess I will be dancing at a few more weddings". He is in it because he loves the game and is living the dream of every red blooded Indian male - if I had the money, I'd like to own a cricket team with the likes of Dada, Ponting, Gayle, Ishant, Mendis, McCullum etc in it. Why not? What else is money good for anyway?
I am not a big fan of Shahrukh the actor. He looks ugly and is a loud ham besides, who would not know good acting if it bit him. Shahrukh the man however is another thing altogether. Not many know that his father was a proud Pathan who left the NWFP to settle in India because he was a committed Congressi who believed in the Gandhi-Nehru vision of India and could not abide living outside India. That love for the idea of secular India is ingrained in his DNA. He is the first prominent Indian Muslim to come out and say publicly that the Mullahs are teaching the wrong meaning of the Quran to the young people and turning them into terrorists. He has worked hard for his success, and in the face of opposition from such entrenched interests as Amitabh Bachchan himself. He has always remained graceful and dignified in his public pronouncements even about his detractors. Everyone who knows him says that he is and honest and loyal person. Buchanan is about the only wrong decision the guy's ever made. Does he deserve to be crucified for that?